Diana Evans (on the picture), Alex Wheatle and Hafsa Zayyan are among the authors appearing on a new podcast celebrating British black writers, launching today (October 4).
To kick off Black History Month, “The Amplify Project” will see a range of black British writers across stage, page and screen interviewed by playwright, writer and director Patricia Cumper and writer Pauline Walker.
Launched through bimonthly episodes, the series will explore the backgrounds, ideas and inspirations of guest writers. Each will discuss their own experiences growing up in Britain, being an author, and delving deeply into the topics that impacted their lives and writing, including what it means to be a black writer and British.
Wheatle, author of Brixton Rock (Arcadia Books), is joined as a guest by We are all birds of Uganda (#Merky Books) author and first #MerkyBooks New Writers Award winner Zayyan, best-selling author, journalist and critic Evans, and historian, author and producer Colin Grant.
Juliet Gilkes Romero, screenwriter and screenwriter and recipient of the 2020 Alfred Fagon Prize for Best New Play, will also present, alongside author Nick Makoha, founder of the Obsidian Foundation, and playwright Oladipo Agboluaje, winner of the 2009 Alfred Fagon Prize and recipient of the Peggy Ramsay Award.
Cupper’s pieces have been produced in the Caribbean, Canada and the United States. In the UK, she has won awards for her work in audio drama, most recently the BBC Outstanding Contribution to Audio Drama award in 2020 for her adaptation of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies. She was artistic director of the Talawa Theater Company, then the UK’s leading black-run theater company, for six years and received an MBE for service to the British Black Theater.
Commenting on the new podcast, she said: “There is not a single British black identity. More than anything else, this is what I learned by creating these podcasts. The range of life stories and the many routes black writers have found in making work and viable careers for themselves is amazing. What emerges from all the interviews is the power of storytelling – to entertain, educate, heal, reveal worlds hidden and new stories – and the sheer determination and determination to speak out it takes to be a successful storyteller no matter what your genre. And it was fun: challenging, surprising, captivating but most of all fun. deeply grateful to the authors for these conversations.
Walker won the Platinum Creative Future Literary Awards with his short story “The Wait,” which was published in the winner’s anthology. Nothing important, alongside the work of Kit de Waal and Dean Atta, and later online by Wasafiri. She is currently working on a novel.
“We started talking about this project in May 2020, wanting to find a way to showcase the careers and work of black British writers, something we were missing,” she said. “When you read something like” publishers claim they would like to reach more diverse audiences but don’t know how to do it, or are reluctant to spend resources doing it ” [in the Re:Thinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing report]This is quite disheartening because black British writers and their work are no less valuable or vital than non-black writers. We wanted to change that and I am delighted that we were able to bring the project to life with the support of Arts Council England.
“One of my favorite things about the podcast is listening to our guests’ stories of how they found their way into writing and what it means to them to be a writer.”